Who is Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch? Meet the winner from Mississippi
Miss USA 2020 snatched her crown Monday night.
Asya Branch, who represented the state of Mississippi, was awarded the title at Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.
Cheslie Chryst, who won the pageant in 2019, awarded Branch her crown.
Although she’s young, Branch already has quite the resume: At age 17, she attended Harvard University for summer school. She graduated from Ole Miss and runs her own cosmetics line called Branch Beauty (though the shop was placed on hold after Branch won the title).
Soon, Branch will move to New York City to begin her duties.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new Miss USA.
Who are Asya Branch’s parents?
Branch comes from a large family and is the sixth of eight siblings, according to her official pageant bio. Her father was retired from the military and her mom worked as a teacher’s assistant.
When she was 10 years old, Branch’s father was arrested at their home for kidnapping and armed robbery, while she and her siblings watched from the car. “That day our lives changed forever,” she told Empower Missippi. “We had a beautiful home and a great life.”
With her father in prison, the bank foreclosed on their home. “People looked at us differently when they found out that my father was in prison,” she said. “That was a critical stage in my life and it ended up changing me. I felt this overwhelming shame.” Now, Branch talks about her father’s story to help other kids who have incarcerated parents.
What issues does she care about?
Criminal justice reform is a major part of Branch’s platform. She started an initiative called “Finding Your Way: Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents,” according to Glamour.
Branch also speaks out about responsible gun ownership.
“As someone who grew up in a home with guns, I learned at an early age how to load, how to fire and gun safety, and I think that education should be available to everyone,” she said, during a portion of the competition when she was tasked with speaking on a random subject pulled from a box, according to The Daily Beast.
“I think it’s important that we not ban guns, because obviously, people will find a way to get what they want anyways, but I think it’s our Second Amendment right, and we just need more safety surrounding that,” she said, though she did mention that people who want guns should go through training and tests to get them.
Does she have a connection to President Trump?
The beauty queen has met the president many times. In 2018, she was part of a roundtable discussion about criminal justice reform with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
That year, when she became Miss Mississippi USA, she also sang the national anthem at a Trump rally in the state. “Incredible honor to sing the national anthem tonight in Southaven for the President Trump rally,” she wrote on Instagram at the time.
However, she did not fully endorse the president’s administration when answering a question at the competition. “We’ve lost trust in the systems that seem to keep our country running, from the media to business to our government,” Branch said, according to Fox News. “And it’s all about restoring that trust and coming together and working together to heal and trust in these systems. If we want to continue to be the greatest nation, we’re going to have to set a better example.”
Is Branch the first black woman to be Miss USA?
No. However, she is the first black woman to be Miss Mississippi USA, according to People Magazine.
Last year, for the first time in history Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA were all black women.